Archives for category: Process

I have talked about the Brimfield Antique fair before in these writings. It’s a huge event held three times a year in the town of Brimfield, MA. The town has fields and fields of antiques. From beautiful furniture to miscellaneous parts (like this bin filled with old watch faces).

Finding the “ingredients” for my Foundlings involve spending time. Lots of time. I spend time looking for that “perfect piece” but I also spend a lot of time, waiting for when that fragment will find its way into a work. I have had parts in my workshop, sometimes for years. There are other pieces that come back to the studio and they get used right away.

What is true in art is so often true in life. Life is filled with choices and sometimes the results of these decisions happen quickly but at other times, these choices bear fruit  years or even decades later. So I take my time knowing that the decisions I make, will have outcomes that are largely unknown to me at the present time. I never know if these choices will work out but I always take my time. I consider it, time well spent.

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Brad_front_72dpiCYMKThe Art Expo / Solo NY show has come and gone. On the plus side, I sold four pieces. As exhausting as it is to be “on display” for four days, I do get a lot of praise for my work and get to meet a lot of people, including artists. I really do enjoy talking to other artists, whatever their chosen medium is and whatever their skill level. It is so inspiring to meet people who are on a similar path what is basically a solitary pursuit. On the negative side, this is a expensive event, it’s a complicated and crowded location, and did I mention exhausting? I owe so much to Marie as she is the true logistic and strategic “brains” of the operation. I really couldn’t do this without her, and her Excel spreadsheets.

There are so few places for independent artists to show and a major draw of this show is to make connections with gallery owners, art buyers, and other people in the art world, from art magazine publishers to curators. I do hand out plenty of show postcards and business cards and I try to run down every lead but rarely do they materialize. I suspect this is a bit like dating. There are lots of good will and positive intensions out there but finding relationships that “click” are few and far between. Still, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who dare, risk defeat. Those who don’t, ensure it.”

So I will keep plugging along and ifI do my best, I will at least have a body of work that I can be proud of.

Oh, and this is Brad. A new piece that sold,… it didn’t stick around very long.

I set up for Art Expo/Solo tomorrow. Like a road race upon seeing the finish line, I usually pick up the pace to sprint to the finish. Likewise, I have picked up the pace to complete as many new pieces as I could for the show. It’s been exhausting but gratifying.

I have this running debate (forgive all of the running references) with myself about the type of pieces I should create. Make what sells, or make what my creative instincts guide me to, whatever the direction. Not that these are completely different directions. I do like to create classically “beautiful” work but I don’t want to merely do “pretty.” You can photograph a flower. The subject is pretty so you get a “pretty image”. Pushing yourself, you can photograph a flower but still have a voice and something unique to say.

“Portal” came together very quickly, just in time for the show. It is pretty and I think it will sell. I am not breaking any creative new ground here but it was a very satisfying process. I will be proud to show it but it always saddens me when new work sells. I always hope they will stick around for a while.

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It’s done. It’s heavy (about 50 lbs.) and it does come apart. I have to unscrew the gold frame part behind the head and I can then remove the bust of Zeus. Then I can unscrew the brass cap nuts, on either side of Zeus and the “shelf” comes off.

Coming apart in three pieces makes this much easier to transport and easier to hang. The best part, it doesn’t look like it comes apart.

I still get concerned about how heavy this is and the fact that being able to come apart does suggest that this could come apart,… when I don’t want it to.

Never-the-less, I am very happy with the piece and I have almost a month to spare before the Art Expo show in New York this April.

We will try hanging my smallest pieces next to this large piece in the hope that the big work makes the smaller ones look smaller and the smaller pieces make the bigger piece look even bigger. Should make for a more dramatic effect. We shall see.

As discussed, this “Broken Zeus” piece is a larger piece. Larger works are very gratifying to build but I have to pay careful attention to the structure as these get pretty heavy very quickly. I also have to give a lot of thought to seeing if I can make these works modular. If
I can construct a Foundling to come apart, it is easier to work on, to hang, and to transport. It came as a rather rude awakening that the first large piece I was working on wasn’t going to fit in the car. If it doesn’t fit in my car, then it means having to get a rental truck any time I want to show the work. So I had to go back and think how I could get the piece to come apart (and easily put back together).

In addition to the mechanical problem of how a piece is going to fit together is the aesthetic problem of making the pieces fit together in such a way that the seams are either hidden or only add to the overall design.

With the help of my dear friend Dave, “Broken Zeus” will not have to come apart but at approximately four feet tall the structure is on the heavy side. I count on Dave to help make these structurally sound. Here, the base that will hold the Zeus head is reinforced with a good, solid piece of wood to hold this all together. Thanks Dave.

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I have a casting of Zeus’ head that I picked up in Athens years ago. It has moved from home to studio to home again, and subsequently broke. I had such wonderful memories sailing the Greek islands with my friends that I hated to part with it.

Then there were the pieces of an organ that I purchased on the premise that if I could take it apart, then and there (and get it into the car), I could purchase it very cheaply. It was badly damaged but had such beautiful carvings on it that I had to have it. I took it apart over two years ago and it has been living in the garage ever since.

These are large items and they need a large scale to get them to live together. So these parts waited as I tend to work in a smaller scale. I woke up recently dreaming of a work with these pieces. It was only a rough idea but I have found that it’s best to follow a vision, when they happen, where ever it leads. It would be nice to have another large piece for my show at Art Expo, New York in April but it will depend on if this was merely a vision or only a dream.

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It has been a while since my last entry. Between the holiday season, my yearly holiday party, the family coming in from the West Coast and my latest show, it’s been a very busy time.

Marie and I packed up 37 pieces and drove for two days to show for four days at the One of a Kind Show in Chicago. I sold two pieces and received lots of praise. It was very gratifying. There were over 600 “vendors” but the show felt more like a gift show with a lot of artists rather then a fine art show. I am not planning to show there again but there were big crowds and it was incredibly well run.

I do wonder if these “retail” shows are a good fit for me and my work. I do like showing my work but does it help me on my path to a museum or with the recognition I seek? So as I ponder the upcoming year, I look forward to what it will bring.

Happy New Year.

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I can see how my work is evolving. The change is subtle but I can see it. Not that it’s easy to explain but there is a kind of harmony to the pieces. They look more contained, more complete. My Foundlings look like they are “meant” to be a certain way. When I have a less successful piece, there is an incomplete quality to them and I have an urge to change them.

That is not to say that everything I create is as successful as it could be, just that I am clearer with what I have been creating. This may have less to do with understanding the process and more to do with an understanding of the goal.

My older work just isn’t as consistently complete as I would like it and yet, this incompleteness has an endearing quality to it. Like an old friend who is irritating at times but is a good friend never-the-less. Their faults seem to me more like personality.PS187_front_72dpiRGB

A Victorian flower frog from around 1890, an old lamp reflector, and a differential gear are framed by the base of an old musical box. All that survived from the musical mechanism was the “on/off” lever on the bottom edge but this added such a little touch of whimsy.

I have two major shows coming up so between the planning, the preparing the work for travel—always a concern, and, not to mention producing as many pieces as I can, I am busier then I had anticipated.

I don’t mind being busy. Actually I prefer it. I get so lost in creating that the pressure is almost unnoticed. It’s one thing to have to drill a hole, for example, in a very fragile part and worry about getting it right versus just not having the time to worry, and just doing it… Not unlike jumping into a pool.

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I frequently use animal bones in my work. It’s not that I have a ghoulish point of view nor is it, strictly speaking, a fascination with death. It’s more about the continuing internal conversation I have with not wanting to take the world for granted. In that way my art reminds me not to take life for granted.

Beyond this philosophical context, bones are simply beautiful. They marry form and function that literally lies just below the surface. Honed by the ages, these forms speak of a kind of trial and error to continually perfect a form—not unlike my efforts to perfect a Foundling.

And like the never-ending process of perfecting a form by nature, my work also seems never-ending as I am always trying to perfect a piece. I will never get there as there is really no such thing as perfection but along the way I learn more about the beauty of imperfections (another reoccurring theme of mine). I learn more about what is beautiful to me and how things that in the past I might have ignored or even been mildly repulsed by, I now see the beauty. I see how these bones now unlock a pathway to seeing more broadly. For that I am grateful.

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